Tariffs ‘catastrophic’ for centuries-old UK food trade

The impact of planned tariffs would be “catastrophic” and would severely impact on a centuries-old, multi-billion euro food trade between Ireland and Great Britain, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Commenting on this morning’s announcement from the UK, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said that the immediate effect would be on Irish beef and dairy products where UK consumers’ prices would have to rise substantially.

Even then, he said, the level of tariff would make the trade completely unviable.

McCormack said that the effects would be felt literally in every parish from the perimeter of Dublin Airport westwards to Connemara and from Malin Head south to Mizen Head.

Farming and food production is not just a component of Ireland’s rural economy, he said.

“In very large parts of Ireland it is the effective total economy and in the same way as farming and food acts as a positive multiplier when it is going well. The negative effects that would result from the imposition of tariffs on food exported to Britain would work as a negative multiplier effect in the wider rural economy on machinery, construction, feed and services.”

McCormack issued a reminder that the ICMSA had warned last summer against the tactic of overtly prioritising the “north-south political” over the “east-west economic” and had asked the Government at that stage to consider giving them parity of focus in their strategy.

That had not happened and ICMSA’s worst fears about drifting towards what would be an economic catastrophe for rural Ireland are now being borne out.

“The vote tonight in the House of Commons is absolutely critical and the option of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ must be categorically and finally ruled out if we are to avoid an unprecedented shock to the Irish agri-food sector,” concluded McCormack.